For over two years, the National Atheist Party has been a small political party recruiting members from the atheist community through social media, namely Facebook and Twitter. Despite the name of the party and religious affiliation of most of its membership, the NAP’s focus was not aimed at promoting atheism or tearing down religious dogma, as groups like American Atheists and Freedom From Religion Foundation do from time to time. Rather, as a political party, the NAP was more interested in removing religion from US government, fighting the presence of god in the public square, and strengthening the separation of church and state.
Many members of the party have long taken issue with its name, citing that someone’s religious affiliation does not define their politics, so naming a party “atheist” assumes that it represents all atheists, which it may not. It’s no different than forming a National Christian Party and assuming all Christians would have the same political leanings and be compelled to join. It’s presumptive and illogical. And if there’s one thing atheists hate, it’s the absence of logic. On top of that, the name suggests that only atheists are desired or allowed to join, which is untrue. In fact, anyone in favor of a government free from religious influence is encouraged to join.
So within its membership, an effort was born to change the party’s name to the Secular Party of America. This seems to fit the goal of its members, a secular government. Maybe more importantly, it removes the exclusionary Atheist name and extends the invitation to all Americans who desire a secular government to join. The internal push evolved into a strong campaign, complete with new logos and a commercial featuring current members explaining their vision for the party.
At the end of the day on July 13th, internal policy voting closed, and the party’s members agreed with the internal campaign, securing the 75% needed to change its name to the Secular Party of America. This change clears the path for the group to gain non-atheist members, promote itself without the “atheist stigma,” and focus on the party’s main goal — securing the separate of church and state that is a fundamental building block of the United States. The reborn Secular Party of America has a long road in front if it, but with strong leadership and focus, it has a chance to grow and have some influence in American politics.